Bruce Smith has postponed indefinitely a press conference to announce his book, How Pink Slime Ate My Job, and his lawsuit apparently arising out of the LFTB/pink slime controversy.
BPI Former Employee: “Pink Slime Ate My Job.” Or was It BPI’s Decision Not to Disclose LFTB on Labels?
Former Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) employee Bruce Smith has filed a lawsuit concurrently with publishing his new book, “How Pink Slime Ate My Job.” (Apparently, Mr. Smith alleges that media publicity concerning the widespread, unlabeled addition of Lean, Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) to ground beef decreased BPI’s sales and resulted in company layoffs.) Free copies of Smith’s book and his lawsuit will be available at his June 26, 2012 press conference.
Iowa Rep. Steve King has stated he supports Mr. Smith’s use of the court system to “get to the bottom of this” alleged controversy, but why? And why has he stated that the federal government should order public schools to buy LFTB for their discounted lunch programs? (Only three states have chosen to purchase LFTB next year due to public demand to curtail its use.)
Do these have anything to do with the fact that BPI is one Rep. King’s top 20 campaign contributors? For other social issues, Congressman King has raised a concern that the nation’s “runaway judiciary” plays an “active role in the lives of our children.” Rep. King also contends he is “a firm believer in states’ rights” and the need to “protect parental rights from being infringed by the federal government.” Why is the LFTB/pink slime controversy any different?
Another unanswered question for Mr. Smith and Rep. King: if LFTB is so great, why did BPI make a concerted effort to avoid labeling it instead of just disclosing it on product packaging? The free market Rep. King supports requires freely-available information so consumers can make intelligent buying decisions. Two LFTB producers have submitted labeling requests to the USDA, because some consumers who have learned more about the product want to buy it. Good for them. As Marion Nestle (quoting Carolyn Scott-Thomas) noted, if companies selling this product had proactively disclosed its presence in the first instance, they might have minimized customer outrage (and BPI job losses) from its recent publicity.
Please see my new article in FoodProcessing.com regarding the lessons Renfro Foods learned from conducting a recall.
On April 28, 2011, the FDA gave notice that it had updated and implemented guidance standards for fish that “support and complement FDA’s regulations for the safe and sanitary processing and importing of fish and fishery products using hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) methods.” According to the Federal Register, the FDA implemented the new standards immediately, without public comment, to promote consumer safety and “provide important recommendations for conducting a hazard analysis and implementing a HACCP plan.”
A .pdf copy of the guide can be downloaded here.
The 476-page document provides an organized and comprehensive overview of how to identify potential hazards, determine whether they are significant, identify critical control points to reduce the hazard, and develop a control strategy (which includes setting critical limits, establishing monitoring procedures, establishing corrective action protocols, record-keeping, and verification procedures).
Developing, implementing, and verifying effective written Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans can seem like a daunting task for startup and small-scale food processing companies. (The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act requires food processing companies to do so.) Climb this hill one step at a time, and you may realize that it is not so hard after all. The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA offers guidance and free information to help small and very small companies increase food safety by validating, verifying, and documenting their HACCP risk management plans. Several universities and other organizations publish guidelines for how processing companies can develop HACCP SOPs. Sample HACCP SOPs are also available for restaurants and foodservice companies.
Pet food manufacturers need to plan proactively to prevent food recalls, too. Even if people are not on the dog food diet, they may be exposed to salmonella by handling contaminated pet food products. The moral of the story for (pet) food processing companies: although people should wash their hands more often, it’s often less expensive to produce a pathogen-free product than to incur expenses for a costly recall after discovering contamination.
Why are some stores still selling a contaminated food a week after it’s been recalled? Perhaps they have not signed up for FDA email notifications re: product recalls. This fast and free service will help your food processing company, restaurant, or retail store stay up-to-date about foods they use, serve, or sell and lower the risk of, e.g., selling salsa containing cilantro that may be contaminated with salmonella.